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Online Job Hunting Takes Off

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Well, I guess we have to face facts — this Internet thing is going to be with us for a while.

Personally, I thought it was a fad, like lifetime employment or annual cost-of-living raises, but I'm afraid we're going to have to keep on keeping on our computers for a while, at least, until some super-smart company, like Apple used to be, brings back the ultimate form of communication — two orange juice cans connected with a string.

And here's the worst part! Not content with sticking its digital nose into our search for a hot date, now the Internet wants to be involved when we look for a new job. Or so I recently learned in a Phyllis Korkki Workstation column in The New York Times.

"How to Say 'Look at Me!' to an Online Recruiter" makes it clear from the jump that "if you are thinking of looking for a job this year, or are already searching for one, be warned: the rules have changed."

Yes, it's true. Instead of the time-tested way of getting a new job — asking Dad to hire you — now you need an "Internet presence" so that employers, many of whom no longer post jobs, will find you as they search the Internet for the perfect employee. (Of course, Dad can find you without too much searching. You're sleeping on the couch in the family room until the economy catches up with your abilities.)

Fortunately, there is a surfeit of websites where you can promote your wares. The recruiters columnist Korkki recruited make it very clear that LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are all places where you need to have your name up in lights, or, at least, in pixels.

Consider the musings of Alison Doyle, a job search specialist for About.com, who advises that "more companies are turning to Twitter as a way to broadcast job openings, so you should use it to follow recruiters, industry leaders and individual companies." Makes sense, but why settle for virtual following? Why not get yourself a trench coat and start following recruiters and industry leaders from the minute they leave their houses in the morning, to late at night, when they stumble home from the tavern. Sure, they may consider it stalking, and they probably will report you to police, but hey — you did get noticed.

Speaking of getting noticed, this isn't easy to do on overpopulated sites, like Facebook, since experts like Ms. Doyle suggest that you "resolve to be thoroughly professional on Facebook at all times."

It is true that a Facebook photo of you buck naked, passed out on a beer keg, may not represent you at your professional best, but it will attract attention. And if you're looking for a career as a circus clown or a drunken lout, it could prove to recruiters that you're just the candidate they've been looking for — or hiding from. Either way, you've got their attention.

One nice feature of LinkedIn is that it can show you how you are connected to people who could be key decision makers at your target company. Sure, it will take time to ask your high school lab partner to ask his probation officer to ask his grandmother to ask her podiatrist to ask some HR doofus to give you an interview, but what else do you have to do with your time — "Homeland" won't be back for at least six months.

One problem with putting your career on the line, online, is that you've got to do more than post a bunch a lies, sit back and wait until the phone rings. Nicole Williams, a careers expert for LinkedIn, says job hunters should "make full use of the skills section in LinkedIn, and the more specific you are, the better."

This could be a problem.

Once you've specified online what it is you do, your present manager will able to judge your performance, and you will be fired. So keep it vague. Use language like, "optimizing the maximizing factors in core competencies to leverage the bandwidth of the company's wetware."

Heck, with skills like that, I'd hire you myself.

One final caveat from the Korkki column is to remember that potential employers may be judging your career history on the screen of a mobile phone. While this is a negative for candidates with many years of accomplishment, it's a plus for you.

The teeny tiny screen of a mobile phone is one place where your teeny tiny capabilities will shine.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at bob@bgplanning.com. To find out more about Bob Goldman, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

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